Hey Marketers, Stop Trying to Make Great Content

Hundreds of thousands of blog posts and listicles and checklists and white papers and videos purport to teach marketers how to “create great content.”

Simultaneously, hundreds of thousands of talented writers don’t have as much high-paying, steady work as they want.

And between them is a chasm of misunderstanding. And in that chasm is an opportunity.

The Marketers

On the one hand, you have marketers. Not all the marketers. I’m only talking about the savviest of marketers. I’m talking about the people who understand that the interruption model of marketing is dying. They’re not serving up display ads to place on publishers’ websites. They’re not relying on publishers to make content people want in the hopes they can distract people from the content they are enjoying to increase their “brand awareness.”

No one wants to be interrupted.

They understand that they themselves have to make content people want in order to earn their attention. They’re becoming publishers. They’re creating the content people want. Or, at least they’re trying to.

This is what they share:

— Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas) September 17, 2015

TY! RT @michaelgass: A MUST read to understand what’s next for social media and content marketing > The Content Code http://t.co/noIV0vRSdD — Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer) September 17, 2015

The Writers

On the other hand, you have the writers.

The advice writers give each other is so much different from the advice content marketers give each other. Writers do not care about #Video #ContentMarketing success. They are, to quote a successful one, “fucking weirdos who are foisting their weird creations on the world without apology.”

Writing can’t be a popularity contest, and popularity doesn’t add up to much anyway, beyond the ability to pay the bills. There are lots of really popular self-help and advice writers out there whose work is — Well, I would rather carve driftwood sculptures than adopt someone else’s winning strategy for connecting with readers. Advice without rage, advice without longing and despair in the mix, advice through a Vaseline-smeared lens, advice that sounds like ad copy or a douche commercial: NO. I have to do what I do, even if the world decides it’s worthless. I have to follow my own compass and give it my best and hope to connect. I have to carve messy emotions into a useful shape that feels inspired but not reductive.

Look, I don’t care about who is and isn’t a “real writer.” I find that shit false and annoying, tbqh. But what I care about is the fact that people who are good at making content are not, and do not generally interact with, the people who can actually monetize #Video #ContentMarketing success.

The people who are good at making content don’t tweet 50 times per day about writing. In fact they tweet and talk very, very little about writing. Instead, they write. They write about things they care about. They write about things that make them feel. They write about things they think their editors will publish. They write about things they’re curious about. They answer questions people have asked them.

They make hilarious videos in their parents’ basements because, for a certain kind of person, narcissism is effective self-medication. Lilly Singh, aka Superwoman, toiled for years without making any money to speak of, slowly amassing an audience because making people laugh made her less depressed.

By last year her videos were getting the same number of viewers on average as each episode of Canada’s 2013 highest-rated TV show: The Amazing Race Canada.

Here’s the hard truth.

There are no real writers and fake writers. But there are writers and marketers who write.

Marketers click the link in a Tweet like this: “Do not overlook the opportunity to get creative in order to reach your audience in new ways.”

Writers do not need to be reminded to be creative. They don’t “get” creative. They are creative. They are “fucking weirdos.” That’s what makes them writers.

Stop trying to make marketers into writers.

Sponsor the fucking weirdos instead.

Singh is living hand-to-mouth. Unless she has a very stealthy (and therefore maybe kinda stupid) corporate sponsor, she makes most of her money on ad views. One-million views roughly translates to a four-figure payout from Google. If that’s $9999, that is just under $1/viewer.

TV’s top comedy is “The Big Bang Theory.” A recent episode averaged 14.3 million viewers. Its stars earn $1 million per episode and a more-than 1% cut of the show’s back-end profits. That works out to around $7/viewer without the profit cut.

Superwoman is a way better buy than “The Big Bang Theory” for a ton of brands for a ton of reasons. Her audience is young, targeted, and engaged. YouTube offers not just demographic, but behavioral information Neilson could never hope to touch. And it’s much, much cheaper. There are about 18 layers of middlemen between a brand and the viewers of “The Big Bang Theory.”

Make marketers do marketing.

Someone who would write “Do not overlook the opportunity to get creative in order to reach your audience in new ways,” is not capable of writing How Single Girls Discuss Relationships.

And that’s fine! #Video #ContentMarketing success does not lie in making better videos, or getting a better plan for distribution, or writing better ads, or headlines. #Video #ContentMarketing success lies in finding the people who are already making better videos, funding them, and figuring out how to incorporate your brand into theirs without interrupting.

Someone who would write “Do not overlook the opportunity to get creative in order to reach your audience in new ways,” should not be writing. They should be connecting writers with brands.

Between the hundreds of thousands tweets on “creating great content” and the hundreds of thousands of talented writers making YouTube videos in their parents’ basement is a chasm. And an amazing opportunity.

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